Posts Tagged "employee turnover’

Leaving Behind, Moving On

by Lynette Silva

Fish Jumping into larger bowlRecognize This! – Too many good employees leave out of boredom. Identifying areas of interest for new career paths can keep top employees engaged and on board.

Last night marked the start of a new era in late night television in the US with Steven Colbert’s debut as the host of “Late Show” on CBS, long the home of David Letterman. But this wasn’t just the start of a new host on a late night show. This was also the laying to rest of Steven Colbert’s fake persona of nine years, the “well-intentioned, poorly informed, high-status idiot” that Steven Colbert (the real person and comedian) created and who helmed the nine-year run of the “Steven Colbert Show” on Comedy Central. Colbert left behind a tremendous body of work in order to move on in his career.

If we use Colbert’s career trajectory as an object lesson, last night was certainly momentous. Think about it. He spent nearly a decade creating a beloved character, watched by millions. He had a very successful career, was quite popular, and likely still had many fruitful years ahead of him as his blowhard alter-ego. Yet he was growing bored. In interviews, he has said he wanted to be able to interview interesting people in his own voice. To do so, he had to leave behind years of work and step out into the unknown to prove himself once again. But the risk was worth it for the excitement of something new.

I wonder how often that same feeling is true for our employees and fellow colleagues at work. I know in my own career history, I’d love my work until I became bored. Then I’d be onto the next company, looking for the next challenge. I’m pleased to say I’ve more than doubled my prior tenure record in my time with Globoforce. And that’s because of the opportunities I’ve been given to grow, stretch and, yes, even fully reinvent myself here.

When we think about how we retain employees, often top of the list is being sure we’re creating “career development paths” for employees. But how often are those paths real or in alignment with the true desires and wishes of the employee? How do we help those we manage find a future path that both invigorates and inspires them personally while also furthering the success goals of the organization?

One of the easiest yet most profound ways to do so is through social recognition that encourages peers as well as managers to recognize and appreciate those who have helped them on their own projects or goals. When people are both encouraged to help others across traditional silos of teams, divisions and geographies – and then recognized and rewarded for doing so –leaders can begin to capture very interesting data on where their team members may be choosing to give discretionary effort to help others outside their usual roles. This information can be very useful in career pathing discussions to help people identify those areas they seem to enjoy and help them pursue those interests without having to leave your organization to move on in their careers.

How do you gather information on employee interests for career planning discussions? Do your managers have information easily to hand to fuel these important conversations?

Our “Stickiness” Problem: Retention, Opportunities or Feedback?

by Derek Irvine

Overcoming sharing of feedbackRecognize This! – Employees need more opportunities, more regular conversations on performance, and more frequent recognition to overcome retention challenges.

“People just don’t stick around like they used to.”

How often have you heard that phrase in terms of employee retention goals, usually coupled with statements about “there’s just no loyalty anymore.”

History shows that’s just not true. For the last 25 years, tenure has been consistently low across nearly all age ranges. And the youngest generation in the workplace tends to stay the shortest amount of time (which is not surprising considering where they are in their careers).

Chart showing average tenures over time

More recent data published in the Wall Street Journal shows average tenure across occupations doesn’t even reach 5 years.

Chart from WSJ showing less than 5 year retention average

This article focused on big data analysis for retention, looking at many different predictors to determine who might live so you can intervene. But, as the article points out, “The big challenge for employers is what, exactly, to do with the information.”

My suggestion is the rather obvious: Get out ahead of the situation whenever possible. John Hollon pointed out in TLNT that too many companies are “stuck in recession mode” and are not investing in current employees as they should – either with opportunities for internal growth or ongoing feedback.

3 Key Steps to Address our “Stickiness” Problem

Addressing the “retention challenge” requires an attack on three fronts:

  1. Create Opportunities – Employees of all ages and career stages are looking for opportunities to increase their own knowledge and grow their careers. They will either do that in your organization or elsewhere. Sometimes we make it easier for employees to look for growth opportunities elsewhere. We need to refocus our efforts (and often our budgets) on learning, development and career advancement for our current employees.
  2. Talk to the Them More! – People need ongoing constructive conversations with their leaders, mentors and managers throughout the year (and I’d argue throughout the week). Too often, we allow the structured performance review process to dictate when we hold these conversations. Frequent and timely feedback, both positive and constructive, helps employees stay on track and stay personally invested in short- and long-term outcomes.
  3. Recognize them before the traditional 5 year anniversary marker – In traditional years of service anniversary programs, why do we typically recognize people at 5, 10, 15, etc., years? Because that’s when the US and Canadian tax laws offered tax-free award options. Tax law is a terrible reason to follow a specific approach. The Wall Street Journal graphic above is the perfect illustration as to why – you won’t capture the vast majority of your employees if you wait that long. Celebrating anniversary milestone achievements is important, but it should start much sooner and occur in conjunction in ongoing peer-to-peer and manager-based recognition of desired behaviors and values.

How does your organization address retention, feedback and recognition needs? What do you seek yourself?

Who Should You Recognize at Work?

by Lynette Silva

Several cards for saying "thanks"Recognize This! – Every employee should be contributing to your success. All are deserving of recognition.

I love my job. Every day, I get to help people find ways to make their work environments and culture more appreciative, grateful and purpose-driven. That’s powerful stuff. Arriving at such an important end goal, however, requires involving all employees in the effort. After all, every employee contributes to the culture of the company (whether good or bad).

The ramifications of this are quite broad. Many are calling 2015 the year of the retention challenge, with good reason. A recent KPMG global survey of “people and change practitioners” in their member firms highlighted this challenge, but also noted retention issues are different (quoting):

  • Skills shortages are set to increase as globalization and competitive pressures take hold across sectors and industries and improving economic conditions spur employees to seek new jobs.
  • Two-thirds of survey respondents say it is more important to address the talent needs of all employees, in the context of the business and its strategy.
  • Just over half agree or strongly agree that pursuing high potential talent at the team’s expense puts the business at risk.

A key theme of those findings is what we’ve been discussing for years – the efforts of all employees matter, otherwise why do we employ them? So if all efforts matter, we should be doing much more to invest in all employees in terms of training and development, tools and solutions to get the job done, and recognition and rewards.

For too long, resources have been concentrated on top performers primarily or fully at the exclusion of others. Our goal instead should be to offer those top performers the recognition, skills development and resources they deserve, but also ensure we are doing the same for the “Mighty Middle” – those 70% of employees in the middle of the performance bell curve. By focusing more time, attention and investment in these employees, we will move many of them up the bell curve into top performer range. At the very least, we are increasing the skills, commitment and engagement of a far greater percentage of employees – all proven to contribute to increase performance, productivity and retention.

Where to start? The KPMG survey points out an important path – “in context of the business and its strategy.” What guides your strategy? Many organizations have defined strategic objectives (goals) and core values (desired behaviors in achievement of those goals). That’s the ideal starting point. Work to embed those objectives and goals deeply into the daily efforts of every employee. Very specifically recognize employees when they do so. Empower everyone to praise and appreciate each other when they see the same. Provide a method and mechanism to make it fun, fast and easy to do so.

How are you viewing retention challenges in 2015? What’s your plan to retain needed talent?


If More Pay Won’t Retain Employees, What Will?

Image combining the words true and falseRecognize This! – “More money” is the safe, easy answer for why employees leave. That doesn’t mean it’s true.

Yesterday on Compensation Café I wrote about a survey showing that even though employees report being happier in their jobs, more of them are reportedly looking for a new job. I also wrote about Jessica Stillman’s perspective that, even though employees say “low pay” is the number one reason to leave, raises aren’t necessarily the answer.

Two very prescient commenters to that post (Jacque Vilet and John Bushfield) pointed out that more pay is the “easy answer” when asked “Why would you want to leave?” It’s also the “I don’t want to burn any bridges” safe answer employees give in their exit interviews as to why they actually are leaving.

But that doesn’t mean it’s true.

Of course, we’d all like more money in our paycheck, but pay alone often isn’t enough to get us to go through the process of searching for a new job. What does? We need to look at the next two items employees cited on the survey for the real reasons employees put themselves through the hassle of finding a new job:

  1. No possibility of advancement
  2. Underappreciated

Interestingly, these are the same two reasons cited in an APA (American Psychological Association) Center for Organizational Excellence survey I wrote about earlier this month. That survey found:

“The majority of workers (67 percent) continue to report that they are satisfied with their jobs. Yet, less than half continue to be satisfied with the growth and development opportunities (47 percent) and employee recognition practices (47 percent) offered by their employer.”

Do you see the theme here? The same two unmet needs are cited by employees who are satisfied with their jobs.

Think how much more productive, engaged and – yes – happy, employees would be if we could just figure out how to help them advance their careers and be recognized for good work. Reading between the lines, employees are clearly saying:

“I’m in a rut. I know my job and I do it well, but I’m bored and nobody appreciates the work I do anyway. I might as well go find a new challenge somewhere else.”

As I said in Compensation Café yesterday: Social recognition is one of the most powerful tools in the manager’s toolkit to both help employees feel more appreciated for the work they do and to assess employee job fit, contribution and potential areas for advancement. When the entire work community is involved in noticing and appreciating the good work of others, leaders gain much more information on where team members excel and contribute best. This information, when gathered in a strong system of record, can now be used for more effective talent management and advancement of careers.

Are you in a rut? Are your employees? What are your two greatest unmet needs in your work?

3 Perspectives on Job Satisfaction, Retention and Employee Recognition

Image showing check boxes for excellent, good, averageRecognize This! – Research and surveys are clear. Employees want to leave for better recognition.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve seen several employee surveys on job satisfaction and retention. All drive home the point that employees are not satisfied in their work and primary reason is they don’t feel valued or recognized for the good work they do. See the pertinent research findings from three quite varied surveys below:

CareerBuilder survey referenced in TLNT (quoting):

  • Only 59 percent of workers indicate that they are satisfied with their jobs (down from 66 percent in 2013) with 18 percent claiming that they are out-and-out dissatisfied at work, (up from 15 percent).
  • Those who are dissatisfied, “cite concerns over salary (66 percent) and not feeling valued (65 percent) most often as reasons for their dissatisfaction.”

Rainmaker Thinking survey referenced in the Intuit Fast Track blog (quoting):

  • 46% of employees say they feel “stuck” in their jobs and have an unfulfilled desire to head for the exit.
  • 90% say they’re less committed, are less productive and are less willing to “go the extra mile” or “contribute their best ideas”
  • Those polled are not considered the worst performers, which means that it’s not going to be the bottom-feeders who leave.

APA (American Psychological Association) Center for Organizational Excellence survey also referenced in TLNT (quoting):

  • All in all, I am satisfied with my job — 67 percent in 2013 (down from 71 percent in 2012)
  • Overall, I am satisfied with the employee recognition practices of my employer – 47 percent in 2013 (down from 48 percent in 2012)

Taking all that together, employees aren’t engaged and potentially have one foot out the door – all because organizations aren’t making the investment in the fastest and easiest tool HR has in its toolkit to quickly affect employee engagement and retention – frequent, timely and specific recognition.

Indeed, Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources for CareerBuilder, offered this solution (in reference to those survey findings): “Offering frequent recognition, merit bonuses, training programs and clearly defined career paths are important ways to show workers what they mean to the company.”

Across nearly all of our customers, a deciding factor in their initial decision to pursue social recognition with us was employee feedback saying, “We need better recognition.”

How would your employees respond to “I’m satisfied with the recognition practices of my employer?” How would you?



The Real Reason to Worry about Indicators of Employees Ready to Quit

Recognize This! – “I quit but forgot to tell you” employees are costing you more than you think.

Making the round of blogs lately is a Utah State University study of indicators an employee is about to leave your organization. Among the indicators are these behavioral changes people often make 1-2 months before leaving (quoting):

  • They offered fewer constructive contributions in meetings.
  • They were more reluctant to commit to long-term projects.
  • They become more reserved and quiet.
  • They became less interested in advancing in the organization.
  • They were less interested in pleasing their boss than before.
  • They avoided social interactions with their boss and other members of management.
  • They suggested fewer new ideas or innovative approaches.
  • They began doing the minimum amount of work needed and no longer went beyond the call of duty.
  • They were less interested in participating in training and development programs.
  • Their work productivity went down.

Looking at this list, I’m not as concerned about these as indicators of employees looking to leave but as classic indicators of “disengagement.” Remember, disengaged employees (and those looking to leave) are not delivering 100% at work – they are distracted with one foot already out the door.

Helping employees overcome these signs – re-engage at work, if you will – isn’t important only for retention, but also for the daily value and quality of the work being done. That’s why each of these items is also a timely reminder that helping employees engage at work is a daily effort.

How do you do that? Ask yourself:

  • Are you praising people for making constructive contributions in meetings (even if they disagree with you)?
  • Are you helping people understand how their individual tasks or deliverables contribute to advancing the organization?
  • Are social interactions with management geared to help employees build deeper personal relationships across hierarchical lines or do they only serve as obligatory parties at key holidays or the like?
  • Are you recognizing and rewarding people who bring new ideas or innovations, every time?
  • Are you making room in people’s work schedules for them to participate in training and development without adding burden?

I’ve only addressed a few of the indicators, but I believe my point is clear. You get the behaviors your recognize. Your employees give you the level of engagement you encourage. That’s why social recognition is such a powerful method to improve engagement (and the associated quality of work) as well as quickly reduce voluntary turnover. And we all know the cost savings of improving our retention and engagement scores.

Think back over your own career. When you were ready to leave a prior organization? What early indicators showed you were beginning to disengage? What was the “final straw?” Now think about that same organization and why you initially chose to join it. What could have been done differently (by your manager, by leadership, by colleagues) that might have kept you engaged and on their payroll?

Today on Compensation Cafe – Employee Retention: How to Combat Wandering Eyes

Recognize This! – A salary increase should never be your immediate default solution for employee turnover challenges.

More than half a dozen clients I’m consulting with currently tell me retention is a top priority for them. Indeed, they feel like they are constantly trading employees among their competitors, usually over a few dollars extra in pay. Yet, when an employee’s decision to stay or go comes down to a small difference in the amount of money in their paycheck, you know you’re in trouble as an organization…

For the rest of the story, check out my post today on Compensation Cafe and learn why your actively disengaged employees shouldn’t be your biggest concern (especially in regards to retention).

3 Tips to Become the Manager Employees Never Want to Leave

Recognize This! – People leave bosses, not companies. Good managers make sure their employees succeed before themselves.

We’ve all heard the truism that people quit managers not jobs. If retention of top performers and key talent is a priority for you, then one of the first places you should look for improvement is in the relationship between managers and employees. This recent article, for example, points to a recent survey showing 20% of people say their bosses hurt their career. Half of employees, on the other hand, said the boss had a positive impact.

The article goes on to share common advice we’ve all likely heard before: End micro-managing and help bosses learn the art of delegation. Help bosses feel secure in their role and the importance of leading a team so they are confident and comfortable in giving team members credit where credit is due instead of snatching it for themselves.

While that advice is quite true and valuable, I’m far more interested in why these managerial tactics work. It all boils down to these three points (supported by reams of research conducted by Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer in The Progress Principle).

  1. Employees need meaningful work. Busy work kills the spirit. Yes, some work tasks are menial, repetitive and just have to get done. But doesn’t mean they aren’t meaningful. Good managers help employees see the greater value of even the most menial, repetitive tasks. Help your employees see how their efforts help move the greater mission forward.
  2. Employees need to make progress in meaningful work. But meaningful work isn’t enough. Employees also need to know they are getting somewhere. Good managers cast a vision for the future and help employees see where they are on the path to achieving that vision. Help employees see forward progress toward big goals by recognizing them for smaller achievements along the way.
  3. Employees need recognition of efforts and achievements that make an impact. All of this boils down to employees’ need for recognition. Don’t misunderstand me. This is not a grab for another trophy or a gold star. Employees simply need to know what they do matters within a bigger picture. Indeed, our Spring 2012 Workforce Mood Tracker survey showed 78% of employees said they would work harder if their efforts were better recognized.

Instead of micromanaging, micro-appreciate. Hone in on what your team members are doing and recognize smaller achievements and progress towards bigger goals. Instead of snatching credit for yourself, be the one to give credit to your team for success and let the entire company see how much you all achieve together.

What other attributes do you see in good managers? What made your best manager so good?

Your Employees Say They Want to Leave – So What?

Recognize This! – Ignoring employee potential to leave is just as dangerous and short-sighted as ignoring the reasons why they would.

How many news reports, blogs or tweets have you read about employees planning to leave? For me, I’d have to estimate in the dozens. Just yesterday in a workshop I led, we once again discussed the high rates of employees who do not feel recognized for their work saying they plan to leave their jobs.

What’s management’s opinion of all this? A deep yawn, perhaps a noncommittal shrug of the shoulders.

John Hollon in TLNT points to recent AMA research showing an alarming 69% of managers saying “it’s nothing new for employees to keep an eye out for new opportunities, and I don’t regard the present situation as something unusual.” Senior managers don’t care either, with 61% regarding the potential or a actual turnover situation as not so urgent, or not urgent at all.

Perhaps, as the article posits, this is the natural result of employees crying “wolf!” too many times. Since the recession hit, nobody will deny that employees are overworked and under-compensated in many roles (as compared to prior to the recession and consequent layoffs). And, as I mentioned, we’ve all read the near countless stories of employees planning to leave.

But to ignore this groundswell of ill-opinion from employees is to bury our heads in the sand. Even if employees remain tied to their current positions due to the lackluster employment market, the expression of a desire to leave is – in and of itself – deeply concerning. As my colleague mentioned in the workshop yesterday, these are the employees who “quit but forgot to tell you.”

Their minds are already looking to the future and the next opportunity, or at least daydreaming about leaving your company in their dust. Not only are they not fully engaged in the task at hand, they are actively disengaged. They do not bring their full effort to work, nor do they want to.

This should be deeply concerning to management at all levels. If increasing productivity and performance is your goal, you’ve got potentially 40% of your workforce capable of working much harder – of bringing much more discretionary effort to the table – but who have chosen to “quit and stay.”

Of course, you do still have the option of burying your head deeper in the sand, trusting to employees’ inability to find another job much like those in this very funny video (hat-tip again to John Hollon and TLNT for sharing).

How urgently do you or your senior leadership perceive employee plans to leave? Do you plan to leave? Have you already quit by forgotten to tell HR?

Speak the Language of Your CEO or Your Project Goals Will Get Lost in Translation

Recognize This! – Translating the benefits of employee recognition to bottom-line results will help secure the executive sponsorship you need for program success.

Yesterday, I wrote about why CEOs and CFOs should care about employee engagement. Yet, it’s still often up to HR Pros to help CEOs and CFOs understand why they should and, critically, what you’re going to do to make increased engagement a reality.

Strategic, social employee recognition done right is proven to increase employee engagement by double digits in less than a year. Indeed, recognition is the most powerful, positive way to increase engagement, retention and productivity in line with your organization’s strategic objectives and core values.

To make the case for strategic employee recognition, however, you must speak the language of the C-Suite. A fellow Compensation Café blogger, Dan Walter, made an outstanding case around this, though he was speaking specifically to compensation:

“As it turns out, CEOs want the same thing from their [HR] leaders that they want from finance, technology, marketing, engineering and other leaders. The things they find important are strategy, customers, investors and culture. If your solutions aren’t centered on at least three of these four topics, they aren’t really solutions that address the CEO’s needs.”

The foundation for building a business case for strategic, social recognition lies in showing your C-Suite how your plans for employee recognition enable you to proactively manage your culture, far more effectively communicate strategy to all employees, and improve employee engagement (which directly impacts customer service and quality).

A couple more pieces of advice from Dan resonate well in this discussion, too. As Dan points out, this is what your CEO wants from you and your business case:

  • “Please know our business and be able to speak to me in terms I use on a regular basis. I don’t want to learn your “language” of HR and compensation…  Please learn my language of success.
  • “Explain EVERYTHING from the perspective of how it helps our business become more successful. It’s great if something is new, or trendy, or if you want to make employees happier, but all of that is useless if we aren’t growing and winning.”

Language that matters to your CEO includes how strategic recognition will contribute to improved operating margin by reducing employee turnover and increasing engagement. Give specific numbers. It’s well documented that the cost of replacing an employee is 50-150% of his or her salary, depending on position. It’s easy to do the math based on your current turnover rates on how much you can save by reducing turnover by 10, 15 or 20%.  Research from Towers Watson and Gallup also provides hard numbers on the bottom-line impact of increased engagement.

That bears much more weight with your CEO and CFO than “our employees will be happier and more satisfied in their work.”

Do you speak the language of your CEO?